The Men's QS5,000 and Women's QS3,000 Azores Airlines Pro continued today in six-to-eight foot surf with lots of power in the lineup and some heavy wipeouts in store. The swell built overnight and surfers were greeted by heavy surf at first light with offshore winds and a very clean lineup distilling big barrels and huge sections to hit.
Judges clearly rewarded commitment in the danger zone with some of the biggest scores awarded for high-risk, high-difficulty single maneuvers throughout the morning.
In the men's Round of 96, it's not your usual crowd that came out swinging, but rather mostly under-the-radar surfers with the likes of Patrick Langdon-Dark, Siam Nikritin, Guilherme Ribeiro posting some of the biggest scores.
The morning superheat featured Nikita Avdeev, Joaquim Chaves and Yael Pena in a battled that featured all aspects of surfing. The Russian surfer Avdeev pulled into a clean frontside barrel on a beautiful left and exited clean with a joyous claim and a solid 6.83 which eventually won his a second place and a spot into Round 3.
"I've been spending all my time in the water because this is such a tricky lineup with all the peaks and currents," Adveev stated. "When that wave came I was thinking of my coach telling me not to get barreled but it was really a present from the ocean I couldn't believe it."
Pena took it to the air but couldn't quite match the high scores of his opponents. Chaves on the other hand stuck to big turns on the wave face and locked in big numbers to advance in first.
"It feels super good to surf some more powerful waves," Chaves added. "I'm not that used to it but I felt very comfortable out there. I spent a bit of time eating sets on the head but I'm happy to put a couple of good scores up and winning that heat."
The event also ran through the first six heats of the Round of 64 where the top seeds kicked off their campaign in Azores. Waves improved drastically just in time and the performance level jumped up a level or two.
Goofy footers dominated the first two heats, taking full advantage of a clean and powerful left with multiple sections. Luis Diaz showed the way and Marc Lacomare unleashed his signature forehand carves to post one of the biggest heat totals of the event so far for his spot into the Round of 32.
"I really like this wave with a bit of size and power for a contest," Lacomare said. "30 minutes is pretty long for a heat, I knew what wave I wanted and I only needed two so I took my time and stayed calm."
Guadeloupe's Thomas Debierre dropped the hammer in Heat 3 with an incredible display on his backhand, putting his board and body in the critical sections to post a near-perfect 9.50 backed up by a solid 7.83 for the performance of the entire event so far.
"I started well with that high 7 for a single turn that really gave me heaps of confidence going forward," he said. "I got the bomb and I couldn't turn my back on it so I just hit it twice and I was stoked with my surfing. I grew up surfing lefts so I'm always comfortable and especially with some size. I got my boards stolen last week and I really want to thank my shaper Johan at CleanCut Surfboards for getting me these so quickly, they're great boards."
Surfers and event officials will be back at 7:45 a.m for the next call of the Men's Round of 64, while the women have a call at 10:30 a.m for a potential later start.
The Azores Islands Pro will unfold from November 1-6, 2021 and will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.